Galileo / J.L. Heilbron


Since we recently delved into Galileo’s treatment by the Inquisition which history has greatly exaggerated, I thought that I would share this pertinent article I stumbled across today.

The Truth About Galileo

But more to the point, I was trying to corroborate a quote from J.L. Heilbron’s ‘The Sun in the Church’.

“…Galileo occasionally referred to himself as a saint in his self-appointed mission to enlighten the Church” p.211

The book is definitely a slog but worthwhile reading. Heilbron as an astronomy historian is right up there and the book’s footnotes probably reference another hundred books!

Incidentally, the HASTRO forum just posted that Heilbron has just died. There’s a small blurb about him on the SISFA site.

Addio a John Heilbron

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Hi Schoepffer,
“What Galileo saw when he peered through the lenses was a shattering experience for a methodical mind raised in the Aristotelian universe.”
No, it wasn’t. Aristotelian physics was on the way out as soon as Brahe published his work on the comet of 1577 well before the Italian came out with his observations of the moons around Jupiter.
“Galileo’s announcement of his discoveries was met with initial doubt and then great excitement by the Jesuit scientists in Rome, although they were not yet ready to embrace the Copernican theory as fact.”
What a joke. Of course, they were. They dreamt up the entire nonsense in the first place.

Jesuits to a man.
The entire Galileo affair was a classic psyop. The Popes were on board with the new religion from the Borgia Pope onwards. Clement VII approved of the heliocentric model in the 1530s when he was given a presentation by ‘Copernicus’. If you can believe this. As a Medici, he was part of the scam. It’s all about power politics and this is why Lorenzo de’ Medicia married an Orsini. They needed to gain control of the Vatican which they achieved when Leo X and Clement VII became popes. They believed in the supremacy of the Sun as inculcated into them by Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni della Mirandola.
The Prisca Theologia.
None of the obvious questions were asked during Galileo’s interrogation. If the Copernican model is correct what are the implications? Since Brahe determined there was no parallax down to 1 second of arc and he was measuring stars like Sirius with an angular diameter in the 1 to 2 arc second range, they had to be enormous. No, instead they concentrated on trivia. If the Church authorities were serious about the issue they could have destroyed Galileo on this alone but they had been. Go figure as the Yanks would put it.
Also, I think this idea the Protestants were against the heliocentric model is part of the famed Hegelian dialect. Philipp Melanchthon was appointed professor at Wittenberg University, the seat of heliocentricism in 1518. He was a proponent of the heliocentric model.
This is the good cop bad cop nonsense we see today everywhere. Pick a side. Ultimately the route is decided for you. It’s all theatre.



You make valid points. Heilbron does a good job in in the book, esp. ch 7, of not so much outing the Jesuits, but exposing all the players in Rome who were Jesuit.

Maybe it’s part of the psyop but many of the people who were pushing back, according to Heilbron, were Jesuits, at least for a while. At the time, it seemed to really depend on where you were located as to how much you could say either for or against Copernicus, and you could pretty much say anything at all as long as you called it a ‘hypothesis’.

But, personally, I am much more interested with what the book is actually about, which is using cathedrals as observatories. And the various structures that had meridiana intalled in them and the men who were actually doing their best to determine the solstices and equinoxes interests me more than the political side. And guess what, they couldn’t make them work correctly. They could get part of the year (winter) spot on, but not the entire year. This makes Simon’s, “Man’s Yearly Path” ever more prescient.

I don’t begrudge Galileo, he stayed up all night observing just like Tycho and even if he did draw some erroneous conclusions and was a pompous ass, he collected data. I save my ire for the math-magicians like Kepler.

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Hi Schoepffer. I would be very wary of the Jesuits! There may well have been genuine scientists among them like Riccioli but I would suspect those at the top were always controlling the direction of movement and if you accept these people think in terms of centuries and not decades I can imagine a far grander plan at work that eludes the imagination of us mere mortals. Either way I’ve ordered a book called ‘Setting Aside All Authority’ by Christopher Graney that looks at the arguments presented by the Jesuits Christoph Scheiner and Georg Locher against Galileo’s defence of the Copernican model. I wasn’t actually aware of the ‘Disquisitiones Mathematicae’ by these two Jesuits so maybe I should do more research before I shout my mouth off!